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Defining Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome

Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome (EGUS) is a very common concern in horses, and research has explored how the location of the ulcers in the equine stomach affects healing. A series of articles written by Sykes and Jokisalo set out to review the current thinking about EGUS, paying special attention to the differences between the squamous and glandular mucosa (the two distinct areas in the equine stomach where ulcers can be found).

The first in the series reviewed terminology, clinical signs, and diagnosis of EGUS in the horse. With respect to terminology, EGUS has since been broken down into ESGUS (referring to disease of the squamous mucosa) and EGGUS (disease of the glandular mucosa). These two diseases are distinctly different and need to be addressed as such because the risk factors and treatment can be different.

Clinical signs of EGUS are wide and varied but include recurrent colic, poor appetite, weight loss, changes in the hair coat, poor performance, changes in behavior, and pain on tightening the girth. Some horses that show no symptoms change their behavior and show improvement when treated, suggesting to the authors that “subclinical disease may be common”. Scoping of the stomach (gastroscopy) is still the method of choice to diagnose EGUS, as the location of the disease and severity can be seen.

Scientific Review Article: Sykes, BW and Jokisalo, JM. “Rethinking equine gastric ulcer syndrome: Part 1 – Terminology, clinical signs and diagnostics”, Eq Vet Ed, Oct 2014, pp. 543-547.


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